Phone users in large cities and towns tend to be spoilt for choice when it comes to mobile network coverage, as carriers blanket these densely populated areas with their cell towers. But venture further away into areas where people are outnumbered by cows and sheep, and it’s quite a different story.
The challenge of bringing coverage to rural areas is one that operators have faced for many years, but as smartphone usage and mobile computing continue to grow, there is an increasing need to ensure that those who live in such parts of the world are not left behind. With this in mind, a new ‘national roaming’ scheme has been proposed by the government in the United Kingdom.
As BBC News reports, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid has said that operators in the UK should allow customers to switch to alternative networks in areas where they cannot get a signal via their own carrier.
In some parts of the UK, as in other countries, only one or two networks have installed cell towers and masts, leaving those on other carriers out of luck. Under the national roaming scheme, users would have the freedom to access any available network, in much the same way they would when roaming internationally.
Unsurprisingly, network operators aren’t keen on the idea, saying that it would give them little incentive to invest in expanding their own networks to improve coverage. One mobile industry source told the BBC that, under existing legislation, the government may nonetheless be able to force carriers to implement the proposal.
A spokesperson for Three said that the company “supports the principle of expanding coverage to address areas less well served”, adding that “discussions with government” were ongoing regarding the best ways to make that happen.